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IU researcher: Choking, rough sex on the rise

Dangerous rough sex on rise in college students

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — In a survey, 64% of college-aged women reported being choked during their last sexual encounter, according to a professor and researcher at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.

Asked about the results of her anonymous survey of 5,000 college students, professor Debby Herbenick said, “I was very surprised. I mean, shocked.”

Herbenick has studied sexual and reproductive health for 25 years. She tells I-Team 8 the trend of choking during sex has gotten much more prevalent in the last few years, both on college campuses and off them.

“Sexual choking or strangulation was generally thought to be exceedingly rare, something that maybe 1% percent of the population would have engaged in, or less. So, to see numbers like 64% of college women, or 1 in 3 U.S. women nationwide, being choked at their most recent sexual event is stark,” Herbenick said.

One concern raised by the data was the issue of consent.

The professor said, “It’s so common that many people don’t think to ask their partner, and, in sex between women and men, it’s mostly men choking women, so many men are not thinking to ask their partner if it’s OK with them first. That can get into nonconsensual or sexual assault reports,” Herbenick said.

The professor raised a health concern: By frequently depriving the brain of oxygen, it creates the potential for long-term impacts. “Potentially an increased risk of stroke down the road, or even an increased risk of dementia.”

A singular influence does not point the root cause of the trend. Herbenick said, “It’s in all sorts of places — the pornography, music, music videos, and TV shows, and social media — and many older adults and parents really don’t know that their kids are seeing this and maybe interpreting it as ‘This is just how you have sex.’”

The professor’s goal is to educate young people about the dangers of rough sex. “I do think if we can find the right messages and get them out to large groups of young people, that we will hopefully see a reduction in these kinds of consequential sexual behaviors.”